SBD/September 24, 2012/Facilities

Opening Of Barclays Center Marks New Era For Brooklyn Nets

Prokhorov says Barclays Center will help the Nets in establishing a sense of local identity
The Nets have “never been able to make a significant dent into the immense popularity of the Knicks” in the N.Y. area, but the days of “being able to ignore the Nets are over” with the opening of the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday, according to Tim Bontemps of the N.Y. POST. Despite “plying their trade within shouting distance of the New York City skyline,” the Nets had spent the “last 35 years fighting to gain a foothold in the New York market.” Nets and Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said, “I think when we were in New Jersey, we didn’t really have the platform to do that. We were the after thought. We were certainly the second team in the market. That’s not debatable.” Now the team has “become one of the most talked-about teams in the league.” Nets Owner Mikhail Prokhorov said, “I think every NBA team needs to establish a strong sense of identity based on where it is located, who the players are and what the fans relate to. In terms of the Knicks, honestly I just think it’s great for everyone that a real rivalry is being born, most of all for the fans.” He added, “We’re ready to fight for the heart of every one of them.” The Nets have “gotten off to a good start, thanks to the wildly successful launch of the team’s redesigned logo and color scheme on April 30.” The demand for the merchandise “has far exceeded what both the Nets and the NBA had anticipated.” NBA Deputy Commissioner & COO Adam Silver said, “I think, in many things, we may have underestimated how broad the appeal would be for the team. We anticipated much of it would come, but not until later in the life of the arena and the team” (N.Y. POST, 9/23).

WELCOME TO THE NEW NETS: CNBC.com’s Brian Shactman wrote a “transformation was clear” at Friday's ribbon cutting for the Barclays Center. The New Jersey Nets were “never cool,” but the “BROOKLYN Nets are.” Yormark said, "We've sold 11,000 season tickets. That's an all-time high for the Nets." He added that the team will be "profitable in year No. 1 in Brooklyn.” Yormark said of competing with MSG and the Knicks for sponsorship money, media coverage and fan support, "We don't think about them. But we do want to create a rivalry on the court" (CNBC.com, 9/21). Prokhorov said, “We are on the right way and I'm expecting our championship within three years now." ESPN N.Y.’s Mike Mazzeo wrote Prokhorov “confidently said he believes [Billy] King will be ‘GM of the Year,’ and he doesn't care how much money he has to pay in luxury taxes.” Prokhorov: "You can add it up. I don't want to do your job, but for me it's most important to have a championship." Prokhorov plans on “attending 25 percent of the team's regular-season games,” and he also was “guaranteeing" a '13 playoff appearance. He added his ultimate goal is to "make a small dynasty team." Prokhorov said of the arena, "It's a dream, for me, what we see now. I think it's the best arena in the world. I'm expecting a great rivalry with the Knicks" (ESPNNY.com, 9/21). In N.Y., Mitch Lawrence wrote Prokhorov at Friday’s opening was “on his best behavior, choosing not to take any shots at the Knicks or Jim Dolan.” Perhaps he "understood that the day was bigger than he is” (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/22).

FABULOUS FACILITY: In Newark, Dave D’Alessandro wrote Yormark has “every right to be proud of what he and [developer] Bruce Ratner accomplished” with the Barclays Center. D’Alessandro: “And even if you loathe this rust-colored monolith that sprang up in the middle of Brooklyn, your respect for the human effort it took to build this $2 billion arena takes the form of befuddled awe.” The new facility “could be a special basketball arena.” The “cleverest feature is a 3,000-square-foot oculus hovering over the front concourse, which serves as a 360-degree marquee.” Fans can watch the game as soon as they "step out of the subway station, because the giant HD scoreboard is visible from the main plaza, 50 yards from [the] atrium door.” Inside Barclays Center is “all black and white, with terrific sight lines, and Yormark has resisted the temptation to splash logos over the empty spaces, giving the interior a pure and spartan feel” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 9/22). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay wrote, “By now you may have walked past this arena and gazed upon its reddish exterior and wondered, ‘Hmm, are they going to paint that thing?’ The answer is no, they are not -- it is weathered steel. It will not be painted hot pink. … What it looks like now is what it looks like.” Friday's ceremony was “an opportunity to gaze inside,” and there was “evidence of fussy attention to Brooklyn detail.” In addition to the exterior, the “rest of the place is slick” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/22). The WALL STREET JOURNAL also provided a graphic breakdown of the facility (WSJ.com, 9/21).

BIG TIME IN BROOKLYN: A N.Y. TIMES editorial stated the opening of Barclays Center in Brooklyn is “generally good news for the borough and the city,” as it “elevates what had been an underdeveloped area into a vibrant hub for basketball fans, shoppers and followers of such superstars as Jay-Z” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22). In N.Y., Mike Vaccaro wrote, “After 55 years, Brooklyn is a major league town again. After 5 1⁄2 decades of so many stories trapped in yesterday, there is a sporting today and a sporting tomorrow worth talking about, and a sparkling new palace in which all of that future history will be played out” (N.Y. POST, 9/23).

MORE TO COME? In N.Y., Liz Robbins wrote the arena “stands as an island, a reminder of what is missing.” The 16 “surrounding towers -- primarily residential -- that were originally planned by the developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, for the 22-acre, $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project have yet to be built.” The 10,000 or so jobs “promised have not materialized,” and of the “2,250 affordable housing units pledged out of 6,300, only 181 are planned for a first tower, and ground for the building has yet to be broken.” The air “tingles with the dust of last-second construction and mixed emotions: excitement and wariness, anger and resignation” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/23).
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